The afternoon of Aug. 2 was pretty routine for Cockeysville Officer Robert Moxley; he responded to a call for service near the Northern Baltimore County town of Glencoe.
But this call would be different than others: coded by the police department as an “animal complaint,” a fisherman on the Gunpowder River had discovered two golden retrievers, emaciated and sick, on an embankment of the waterway.
When he arrived on the scene, Moxley said that found the two dogs at the bottom of a 10 to 15 foot “cliff-type” embankment located on Glencoe Road near the Upper Glencoe bridge.
The dogs looked practically skeletal. Later, Moxley would learn that the dogs, both females, weighed between 30 and 36 pounds.
“As soon as I saw them I said to myself ‘there’s no way I’m leaving these dogs there, one way or another they’re coming up from that embankment,’ ” Moxley said.
The man who reported seeing the dogs told Moxley he’d fed them part of a sub that he was carrying.
“In the process of feeding them his sub he felt one of them might have nipped his fingers a little bit. He figured it was more out of hunger and eating so fast,” Moxley said.
“I got down there and they didn’t move away,” he said. “It seemed like they had a sense that I was there to help them.”
He carried the first dog to the top of the embankment and went to retrieve the second one, then loaded them both into his patrol car and drove them to the nearby Defenders of Animal Rights shelter.
Moxley, who has a labrador retriever and describes himself as a dog lover, thought that if he took the dogs to animal control they would be put down.
“I took them to Defenders of Animal Rights, it’s a no kill shelter,” he said. “If I had taken them to animal control they would have looked at them and thought they were beyond help.”
But Defenders told him that they couldn’t take the dogs because they can’t take stray animals; he had to think of a new plan. Meanwhile, Moxley said, the folks at the shelter brought out food for the animals.
That’s when a woman, at the shelter with her daughter, saw the two pups.
“Ten days prior she had lost a Labrador retriever to lymphoma or cancer and you could see just talking about that dog she was still really upset,” Moxley said. “She was there to try and help, maybe even adopt another dog.”
“She eventually decided that if she was allowed to, [she would] take the dogs back to her house,” Moxley said. “I figured that was their best shot of surviving. I drove them up to her house.”
The two dogs—now named Blake and Laya—are adjusting will to their new home, Moxley said. He went to visit them Monday afternoon.
“You can tell an immediate difference in their eyes, in their faces. They’re still very emaciated, they’re still not out of the woods yet, but they’re wagging their tails, they look like they had smiles on their faces,” he said.
“I’m surprised by the outpouring. It was a feel good call … normally I get called to situations that are pretty bad. This time it started out pretty bad but ended up good. I was just glad that I was able to help.”
Despite the fact that he carried the dogs up from the river and drove them to the shelter, Moxley said its the Sparks-area family that make the decision to adopt the dogs that deserves the credit.
“The real heroes in this are the family that took these two dogs in. They took it upon themselves to have the expense, time and energy to try and save them. I’m hoping both will make a full recovery,” Moxley said.